Indeed, in the view of some neuroscientists and marketing researchers, the notion that the human brain should be studied in isolation is deeply flawed to begin with. Measuring the brain's reaction to a TV spot simply does not provide enough data to extrapolate future behavior. Studying how a person interacts within the larger culture is far more important.
'There are many other constraints outside the brain that make us act the way we do,' said John Winsor, VP-director of the cognitive and cultural radar department in Crispin Porter & Bogusky's Boulder, Colo., office.
For example, does it make a difference if a test subject's brain lights up while viewing a Hummer ad in Boulder, where 'you feel guilty if you don't drive a Prius, or where my parents live, in Cody, Wyo., where the norm is to drive a pickup truck?'
'There are other factors that control how we are going to interact, and culture is a big one,' he added.